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Re: Comment on proposed patent policy change

From: Aschwin van der Woude <aschwin@dhivehimail.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 13:56:50 +0300
Message-ID: <3BB6FA72.DDD6BFAE@dhivehimail.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
I fully agree with this poster on all points made!!

> Comment on proposed patent policy change
> From: jbash@velvet.com
> Date: Sat, Sep 29 2001
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> From: jbash@velvet.com
> To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
> Date: Sat, 29 Sep 2001 10:54:46 -0700
> Message-ID: <1425.1001786086@zeroknowledge.com>
> Subject: Comment on proposed patent policy change
> I wish to oppose the adoption of any policy which might cause W3C
> recommendations to require technology for whose use royalties must be
> paid. I oppose such a policy regardless of the "reasonableness" or "lack
> of discrimination" of the licensing process. Indeed, I would be
> concerned about any system which might require an implementor even to
> register its use of a technology. My reasons are as follows--
> 1. The administrative burden of seeking and maintaining licenses
>    would inhibit implementors. Such clerical effort can be
>    prohibitive for a small enterprise. Even in large enterprises,
>    it tends to slow adoption by discouraging potential project
>    advocates, and to damage innovation by adding to the burden
>    on projects which might wish to extend the standard or combine
>    it with other technology. Likewise, development for in-house
>    use becomes impractical when patents must be licensed.
>    The licensing burden grows over time; the more standards a
>    product or suite of products supports, the more patents
>    have to be licensed.
> 2. The monetary costs of licensing have the same bad effects,
>    but perhaps even more skewed against small, poorly funded
>    implementors.
> 3. The need to seek licenses would, of course, completely
>    prevent many open source implementations. Since open
>    source has been a major source of innovation in the Internet
>    and the Worldwide Web, and it would seem unwise to kill
>    that particular golden goose. This is especially true because,
>    in the past, open source innovations have perhaps been
>    better for standards than closed innovations... they have
>    been more likely both to maintain backward compatibility
>    with existing practice, and to be offered for future
>    standardization.
> 4. Many, many patents in the W3C's field of interest cover subject
>    matter which is obvious, and which should not justify a patent
>    at all. Unfortunately, both because of a lack of qualified
>    examiners and because of regulatory capture effects, patent
>    offices have been unduly free in issuing such patents. In the
>    US, some unfortunate court decisions have reinforced this state
>    of affairs. The result is a patent system badly in need of
>    legislative and administrative reform, and it is the duty of
>    all responsible technologists and technology organizations to
>    support such reform. The policy proposed for the W3C does the
>    opposite, serving to legitimize patents that should never have
>    been issued, and to encourage people to apply for weak patents
>    in the hope of being able to "tax" future standards-based
>    products.
> 5. Even "reasonable" licensing has frequently been used as a barrier
>    to entry, helping to perpetuate industrial oligarchies. In
>    addition, even under RAND rules, licensors have been known
>    to act in bad faith, or to practice "hidden" discrimination.
>    Even if these abuses are the exception, rather than the rule,
>    they are enormously destructive, and it is unwise to invite
>    them.
> 6. The need to license patents may make it very difficult to
>    conduct a development project in secret. Consider the company
>    which is developing a new product on a tight schedule, but
>    needs to license a patent from a competitor before the product
>    can be released.
> It is true that some standards bodies operate successfully under RAND
> rules, and that some standards requiring licensing have been adopted
> without apparently serious damage. However, this has happened mostly in
> cases, such as consumer electronics or semiconductor manufacture, where
> a few large companies with enormous capital investments make essentially
> all of the products. In such a situation, patent licensing does not
> greatly increase the already large barriers to entry. This does not
> describe the environment in which W3C recommendations are used; in
> software, patent licensing costs (including administrative costs) may
> frequently exceed all other costs involved in developing a product.
> It is extremely rare that a patent covers every possible way to
> implement really important functionality. It is therefore usually
> unnecessary to standardize around a patented method. In the very
> uncommon cases where a patent effectively covers all ways of doing
> something extremely useful, the patent holder is in a position to
> dictate the terms under which her technology is to be used, and has no
> incentive to agree to RAND terms, or indeed to work through a standards
> body at all. In such a case, the W3C's position becomes moot.
> Please don't saddle us with the need to worry about patents when
> deciding whether to implement a W3C standard.
>                                 -- J. Bashinski
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Aschwin van der Woude
Open Source Specialist

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    because I stood on the shoulders of giants.

                                         Sir Isaac Newton

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Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 06:54:51 UTC

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